Emma Brusie – Understanding the challenges that Maine fishing communities face

Emma BrusieEmma is an undergraduate student in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program

Why are you interested in the problem you are working on?

I’m interested in the Young Fisherman’s Development Act (YFDA) Project because I’ve had a chance to dive into the world of fishing (pun intended) and see and understand the challenges that fishing communities are facing today in Maine and elsewhere. It’s more than a job for many in the industry; it’s a way of life, and many have never known anything else. Unfortunately, these challenges are making it difficult to sustain the industry, which is rapidly changing, and so it’s really important to find out where the needs are so that whatever YFDA funding Maine receives goes where it needs to in order to help the people.

How could your work contribute to a sustainable future in Maine and beyond?

The goal of this research is to assess community needs among fishermen and aquaculturists, particularly industry and youth, so that we can provide recommendations as to how to help them succeed and build a sustainable future for this trade. We’re learning where the gaps are and determining ways to fill them in so that new people can come into the industry and members aren’t driven out by the changing world, so that this way of life that’s so important to so many peoples’ livelihood can hopefully continue and thrive for generations to come.

What do you feel are the most important skills that you bring to your internship?

I am particularly skilled at sorting through data and making connections, so I was charged with creating a database of training programs and resources to find where the gaps are and connect them to data from the interviews. I’m also just very excited and passionate about the project, and I bring a general enthusiasm about being as “on target” as possible with our recommendations so that they can really help people.

What have you learned through your participation in this internship?

I have learned a lot about Maine’s fishing and aquaculture industries and the challenges that they face on multiple sides, but I have also gotten a taste of the professional scientific world and a chance to be involved in real research, which has helped me start to develop so many new skills. I’ve learned how to make data summary tables and sort data, seen focus groups being facilitated, gotten some facilitation experience myself, along with so much else.

What are your personal goals for this internship? What do you hope to accomplish?

I was really hoping to gain some experience just all around and maybe find a new passion, both of which have certainly been accomplished. I was so excited to get this opportunity; I’m just starting out in life and I want to learn as much as I can, and this was a great chance for that. I also ended up finding a new career path for myself in all of this, and now I’m going to be studying environmental policy!

How do you like to spend your free time/down time?

I spend most of my free time outdoors. I love hiking, camping, kayaking, and just exploring the world around me. I also love to cook and bake. If I’m not outside or in the kitchen, I’m in my garden or taking care of my many plants. I also love to sing with my A Capella group and play guitar! I suppose I do a little bit of everything, really. I always have some sort of project I’m working on.

What’s your ultimate Maine experience?

I got to have what I would consider my “ultimate Maine experience” this summer, which is the first summer I got to spend in Maine full time. I went camping with my friends in the middle of nowhere, slept in a hammock under the brightest stars I’ve ever seen right next to a lake which I spent the afternoon swimming in, and then woke up and cooked breakfast over an open fire. This was also right after I woke up at 2am to climb a mountain and watch the sunrise, but the views here can’t be beat. I love Maine, and I’m so glad I get to call it my home now!